Sounds like another X-Men movie, right? Stick with me - I'm about to get real all up in here.
The perfect body. The perfect girl. The perfect fit. The perfect hair. That perfect ass. How is she so perfect? Get the perfect look.
Is it any wonder we all think we’re strangely inadequate? Even taking in a tiny bit of media, we’re bombarded by words, images, feelings all pointing us in the direction of ‘You’re not perfect, but you could be, and you should be - why aren’t you perfect?’ And we sit in our sweatpants, our hair tied up in an updo any ladies mag would scoff at, and wonder ‘why the hell am I not perfect yet?!’
But even the perfect females - the ladies paraded before us and draped in lavish clothes (or lack, thereof) aren’t what they appear to us. With the invention of photoshop, we’re being fed a standard of beauty that even the women who appear in the pictures don’t have. Skin is lightened and made to look…glowy? (really. I have no idea what the word for that is, but they seem to make white skin glow, these days. What is this? Radiation? Should I be expecting Uranium cream to come on the market soon?) Hair is shaped in to perfect, frizz-free, shiner locks. Wrinkles are removed, eyes and teeth are brightened. And of course, bodies are squeezed and cinched and twisted and tightened and airbrushed. All with the click of a mouse (I mean, who needs corsets anymore?!)
And even when women are offered a ‘dream makeover’ where they get the full treatment - we don’t want it. As you can see, the women barely even recognize themselves. There’s a disconnect between them and the people they became ‘after’ the makeover. And yet, in the back of every women’s minds(and lots of men’s minds, too!) there is this ideal ‘who you could be’ image. She floats around, frowning in disdain when you eat a cookie, lash out in public, go outside without makeup on.
And what do we do? We stop eating the cookies (for a day or two before giving up). We bottle up our emotions and smile, regardless of how crappy (or creepy) the situation is. We buy more makeup, better makeup. We buy some spanx. We follow the newest diet ‘breakthrough’ like a religion. We buy a whole new wardrobe in hopes that maybe - just maybe we’ll look like her.
But we don’t. And I hate to break it to you, but we never will. She’s a construct - built and crafted for the express purpose of keeping you the way you are. She’s built to control you - that’s it.
In media analysis, we talk a lot about Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. It’s a conceptual prison - where cells are built in a circle around a singular guard tower. The prisoners cannot see inside the tower, but the guards could see them, even though it was impossible for a single guard to view the prison at once, the threat of maybe being watched forced the prisoners to behave as if they were. There was no need for a guard. The prisoner’s policed themselves.
We are our own prison guards - forcing ourselves prettier, smaller, quieter, easier. We don’t speak out when we’ve been wronged. We squish ourselves in to corners when others take up our space. We smile and laugh off insults and catcalls. Society not only forced us in to a state where we’re being policed to be perfect victims, it has also forced us out of our very own bodies. They’re not our own - they belong to…well, even I’m not sure where or who we think our bodies belong to. But I do know it’s not me. We live outside ourselves - in a sense, living through the plastic, photoshopped models who surround us and suffocate us.
Society isn’t finished with us, though. Not only has it turned us in to objects, it has also placed in us all the desire to purchase. Because that prison guard with a rockin’ body, decked out in killer heels also tells us to buy, buy, buy. Just one more thing, and you’ll maybe, just maybe, be a bit closer to her. A bit closer to what we’ve been tricked in to believing is us. No, we’re not who we are in this present moment. We’re actually all supermodels trapped in the bodies and lives of ordinary humans. And if we work hard enough, like a bad dream, we’ll all wake up and blossom in to what we all know we should be.
And I think in Geek culture, this comes to a head. After all, Geek culture is a culture based around…well…popular culture (or unpopular, if you follow the worn out standard media’s created around US***) Somehow, we’re fed the popular media everyone else gets, as well as the media within the Geeky world. And let me be the first to say that they don’t add up. How is it that a community based around fans somehow finds the time to police every single female that comes in to their ranks? *cough*societybullshit*cough* How is it that a culture based around enjoying, creating and analyzing media falls prey to it’s most see-through tropes? (I’m lookin’ at you guys, DC and Marvel).
I’m so tired of society getting in and messing up my life. Every time I think I’ve figured it out, it throws another curveball at me and I’m back to facing down the Supermodels again. Let me join the growing group of people who HATE how boobs look in the geek community. I’m all for letting the girls hang out - but REALLY, guys, let’s be real here. THEY JUST DON’T DO WHAT YOU THINK THEY DO. Period.
Screw that. Screw all of that.
Right now, can you imagine what it would look like if all of us suddenly decided to swear off media and begin the tough job of accepting who we are, right this very moment? Can you imagine the absolute chaos that would cause? The makeup industry, the clothes industry, the entertainment industry, the diet industry - they would all cease to exist as we know them to now.
And let me be the first to say that you - yes, you, are far more brilliant than you have ever given yourself credit for! Take a moment to close your eyes. Imagine that girl that floats around in your head. The girl you could and/or should be. Now imagine locking her inside that panopticon. All of our ‘inner’ selves, policing each other. Now take a deep breath, and let you in.
Yes, you. The real you. Who you are at this moment. Think of all the wonderful things you’ve done, for a change. Think about that seventh grade report card, or that awesome cake you bake that makes everyone rave. Think about all the things you’ve done, seen, become. Think of all the people (and animals) who depend on you, who trust you and love you. Think of all the great things you have - how much more you have than so much of the world. Think of all these things and hold on to them. Write them down. Treasure them. Be thankful for them.
Now think about all the things you like. All the things that make you laugh and cry and go back to. What are you passionate about (and trust me - there are no wrong answers here. One of mine is ‘soap’ so…don’t even go there)? What could you spend hours doing? What could you do more of?
These things - all of this is you. You - beautiful human being. You, in all your imperfect glory. You - despite the flaws and failures. You - breathing, experiencing, thinking. You - Living.
I want to start a revolution. A crazy-impossible one of radical self-acceptance and joy and presence. I want all of us to lock away what the media tells us we should be, and embrace what we are. I want us all out on the street, strutting out stuff, waving our own flags (no, they’re not perfect. That’s the point).
I want the girls who’ve shrunk to minuscule sizes to release their inner dragons and breathe fire. I want the girls who have been living someone else’s lives to shed that skin and breathe through their own lungs for a change. I want the girls who can’t stand people to pick up books, sit quietly in their homes and enjoy their alone time. And then I want them to write their own books.
I want an army of girls and women telling the world what they want, and getting it. I want the media to start working in our favour. I want us speaking out against the insanity that is our media-drenched world right now. I want us LIVING.
Will you join the revolution? Because I’ve had enough, and I’d really like some soldiers on my side!
****as a sidenote, I would like to point out the fact that every single geek has been on the recieving end of media hate. Every last one of us has been made fun of at the hands of the media machine, and yet there is so much fighting within our culture on who ‘is’ a geek and who ‘isn’t’ a geek. Let me propose something to us all - why don’t we use our connected Geekiness and just let all of us be who we want to be - Geeks? I love the circles I’m in, but the geek world can be a horrifyingly unwelcome place - especially for females. I wait eagerly for a day when we can look past the in-fighting and accept the fact that we’re all fans, and we should all focus on that instead of policing who gets ‘in’ or not.